1981 news report on internet downplays internet's threat to news

A 1981 news report on how San Francisco newspapers were using the internet is particularly poignant today.

In 1981, a San Francisco TV news station reported on some of the world's first internet users - San Francisco newspaper editors who were overseeing a new investment aimed at streamlining newspaper operations. Little did they know how successful it would be.

Calling it "the newest form of electronic journalism," the reporter explains how editors at the San Francisco Examiner used an early phone-based internet connection to transfer all text content for the daily print edition. The system apparently couldn't transfer photos, advertisements, or comics at the time.

Let's break this video down by each of its most hilarious and regretful lines.

"Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day's newspaper. Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem."

Notice the inflection when she says "computer," like "imagine turning on your home (gasp) COMPUTER!" Seriously, though, the reporters on this story definitely deserve some credit for covering an early use of the internet at a time when the very idea of a "home computer" was still considered asburd. 

"This is an experiment. We're trying to figure out what it's going to mean to us as editors and reporters and what it means to the home user. And we're not in it to make money. We're probably not going to lose a lot, but we aren't going to make much either."

Oh boy. "We're not in it to make money." I wonder if David Cole, an editor at the San Francisco Examiner, ever regretted saying that. And in case he forgot that he did, what better way to remind him than with an archived video immortalized on the internet? 

Jokes aside, he was most definitely talking only about his specific experiment with the internet system. But how ironic is it that editors were charged with finding the value of newspaper owners' investment in internet services only for internet services to eventually drive down the value of newspaper editors?

And, finally, after the report ends, the lead anchor closes with a particularly interesting parting shot. I'm just going to leave this one as is.

"It takes over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper over the phone, and with an hourly use charge of $5, the new telepaper won't be much competition for the 20-cent street edition."

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